Metrics will be familiar for most business owners. In the same way, that there are metrics for finances e.g. return on investment, liquidity ratio etc., there are also metrics that are extremely useful for digital marketing purposes. But if you’re not a marketing expert you might be stuck on knowing which metrics are most important for Search Engine Optimisation, let alone how to track them. If that describes you, let’s dive in and take a look at which ones are good to get started with.
Google Search Console Metrics
If you haven’t done so already, start by registering your site with Google Search Console. This is a suite of webmaster tools that gives access to many of the useful metrics we will need. Just follow Google’s guide to get started: Get your website on Search Console. Don’t forget that Bing also offers a set of tools so we recommend registering for those too: Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Crawl Errors
From the left menu, select Crawl > Crawl Errors. In order for your pages to appear in search results they have to be indexed by the search engine first. This is done by the search engine “crawling” your site. If there any errors, such as “Not Found”, you’ll need to identify the broken links and fix them. You can then ask Google to re-crawl your website.
- Index Errors
Next, select Index Status. This metric will show you how many of your pages have been successfully indexed on Google. Unless you have used a robots.txt file blocking pages from being crawled, or your website has some sort of structural problem, the index number should match the number of pages on your site. If not, you will need to investigate what the issue is and ensure that you fix it. If this is not something you have expertise in, feel free to contact us for assistance.
- Search Traffic
Under Search Traffic > Search Analytics you will find a number of metrics related to the traffic generated by your site:
- impressions are the number of links to your site that a user was presented with in their search results.
- clicks are the number of times a user clicked a link to your site from search results.
- the click-through-rate (CTR) is impressions divided by clicks. It is a ratio of how many people saw your link in search results and followed it.
Also within that section is the ability to filter by country and device. The metric for device is very important because as you’re probably aware, mobile search has grown exponentially and Google now ranks sites based on their “friendliness” to mobile devices.
Devices will give you metrics for the number of visitors using Mobile Devices, Desktop PCs, and Tablets. You can use this data to assess the effectiveness of your pages for reaching a particular type of device. While we’re on the subject of devices, you’ll also want to check the last entry under Search Traffic to check your Mobile Usability rating.
Finally, select Search Traffic > Links to Your Sites. This gives you an idea of how well your site is “integrated” with the rest of the internet. For example, who is linking to you and what your most linked content is. If your content is linked to by well-established leaders in your niche, you’ll gain authority and your pages will rank higher in search results. Most of the time, however, we just let incoming links form “organically”. This is usually referred to as via “natural link building”—that is, if we provide great content people will choose to link to it naturally and to share it on social networks.
In addition to Google Search Console you’ll also want to check the administration section for your website’s host. They usually offer a number of useful metrics and reports.
- Bounce Rate. This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after just viewing a single page. It could mean they have found what they’re after but more often it means they have given up and moved on.
- Page Loading Times. How fast your pages load is very important, especially if your visitors are using mobile devices on slow networks. A free tool that you can use for this is the Pingdom Website Speed Test.
Finally, for those of you who have engaged in paid advertising services (such as Google Adwords) you’ll need to assess the effectiveness of your campaign. The metric you’ll start with is the Cost Per Click (CPC). If you compare that with the number of sign-ups or the amount of revenue you have generated you’ll be able to determine if your campaign is on track.